Thursday, March 13, 2008

Know Your Neighbours

I've heard intermittent thumps and squeaks from the pests in my attic since I moved into this apartment, but this winter has been particularly loud. I have heard them fighting, chasing each other, and having brief but joyous rodent-sex.

Sex I can handle, but I draw the line at chewing, especially when it's done just above my bedroom. I have told the landlords several times that something is chewing up their property but they always act as though I'm saying something obscene in a foreign language; they smile and nod in a non-committal way and then ask me for the rent cheque.

My neighbours last year said that the landlords denied that anything was actually IN the attic, blaming our reports on structural settlage, overactive imaginations, or perhaps ghosts.

This afternoon -- while taking a nap before tonight's drag show -- I was rudely awakened by cacophonous chewing above my bedroom ceiling. Banging on the walls and yelling "shut up!" didn't stop it. Earplugs and box fans were useless. No, I was at the mercy of the Creatures in the Attic, and I was determined to finally get photographic proof of their presence, and also to verify that they were actually squirrels (and not raccoons...they stay up awfully late).

Getting into the attic isn't easy or fun. I need to remove the shelving in a tiny closet -- first finding a place for hundreds of tubes of lipstick and nailpolish bottles -- then contort myself up through a hole that is otherwise blocked by a piece of wood. By the time I'd done this the chewing was still going on.

With camera and flashlight I poked my head into the attic, and here's the monster who was waiting for me:

Awww, cute! Noisy! Destructive! Territorial!

While his invisible sex-buddy continued non-chalantly chewing in one of the corners, this guy circled me several times, seeming more baffled than angry. He made that "chattery" sound that squirrels sometimes make, as if to say "yeah, I'm definitely a squirrel, and I DO like to stay up late."

Then he darted in for the kill:

When you're hanging by your elbows on a thin wooden ledge, your body twisted into a cramp-inducing L-shape, wearing only a robe and with your hands busy with both flashlight and camera, you get a little spooked when wild animals dart at you. Terrified, I shouted "NO!" and he ran away.

I'm going to send these pictures to my landlords and I'll write a typically polite email about it. When I don't receive a reply I'll wait until they come to collect my rent, and then I'll hand them print-outs of the pictures and say "there are squirrels in the attic, and they're chewing holes in the building."

I know what'll happen next. The landlords will nod and smile and walk right back out the door. Later, they'll show the pictures to their children and say "look at these imaginary things, I wonder what they are and where they live?"


Jenn said...

oooh, that's not good. I love squirrels, in a very general way, but I would NOT want them under my roof. They are going to cause so much damage up there. Your landlord is a tool for not dealing with it now. And you still have an empty unit, right? Lets hope it's underneath you, or they could be in their having a good ol' time.

Jenn said...

in THERE, rather.
Oh, I should not type when sick.

Less Lee Moore said...

At first glance, I thought it WAS a rat because I mistook the electrical cord for a tail!


I hate the chewing noises and I have heard them many times from rats. I actually had rats in my kitchen that would hang out on the counter and watch me. Yep, not creepy at all.

Ugh. Landlords. Just had a run in myself.

Less Lee Moore said...

Oh, also, can you email me? I would like to ask you something.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I haven't made a stink about it because the squirrels haven't actually BOTHERED me, but I have made darn sure to keep them updated because -- like you said -- SQUIRRELS CAUSE DAMAGE.

Now I wonder if I can actually request that the landlords do something. I don't see anything about rodent pests in the bylaws, but I haven't looked closely yet.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I know, when I saw that picture I was amazed to discover a two-tailed squirrel!

That electrical cord serves as a reminder of the sort of thing a squirrel might take a bite out of; fire, catastrophe.

Oh please share your landlord story! I always want to know what other people do...

Innocent Bystander said...

Creepy, yet fascinating. Oh, please don't kill the Daily Muffy.

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Don't worry, Innocent! The Daily Muffy will return in a week or two, though we'll be in reruns for a bit longer I think.

Anonymous said...

I am not a lawyer, but I believe this would fall under failure to maintain health and safety standards:
Landlord’s responsibility to repair

20. (1) A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a residential complex, including the rental units in it, in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and for complying with health, safety, housing and maintenance standards. 2006, c. 17, s. 20 (1).


(2) Subsection (1) applies even if the tenant was aware of a state of non-repair or a contravention of a standard before entering into the tenancy agreement. 2006, c. 17, s. 20 (2).

Rodent feces generally carry a lot of bacteria that is unhealthy for humans to breath, and if the squirrels are chewing on (or have the chance to chew on) electrical cords this is certainly a fire hazard.

Anonymous said...

Link was cut off, here it is in pieces:

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I'm pretty sure you're right, anonymous! The health and safety issues involving rodents are so clear-cut that they MUST fall within those categories.

The next thing to ponder is why these squirrels stay up so LATE. They sometimes chew until 11pm, but you NEVER see squirrels outside after twilight.

Maybe they just save all their home-renovating chores until they've retired from daytime nut-hunting and cat-baiting.

LoosMoose said...

Muffy, this is your landlord. Thank you for the picture of your cute pet squirrel but this is in breach of your rental agreement. PLease remit $500 non-refundable per deposit with your next rent payment and please keep it out of the attic as the other tennants are complaining. Otherwise we will be forced to require you to vacate and take your squirrel with you.

The Landlord.
Dewey,Cheatam, & Howe

Muffy St. Bernard said...

But Dewey, it's just so darn CUTE! And it has laser-powered eyes!

Kimber said...

May I just say that a live squirrel is still better than a dead, rotting, festing squirrel. Case in point: my brother-in-law was doing some home renos recently which forced him to go up into the attic. Seeing evidence of chewing and other rodenty destruction, he put poison up there.

Three weeks later, we are gagging every time we go into the closet or his room because of the awful smell. You guessed it: a dead rodent is a stinky rodent. And do you think I can coax him to climb up the tiny cubby hole and retrieve said dead mousies to stop the stink? Noooo....

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Oh no, Kim...the stink is still there? I guess it will end sometime, but wow.

I've obsessively run all the options through my head, and poison was one of them, and the exact same thing occurred to me: what happens if it dies in the attic?

Not to mention I'd rather not see it dead, and I'm unsure about the legality of poisoning squirrels in K/W.

Kimber said...

Have you spoken to the Humane Society about some options? They kindly came and removed a drowned squirrel from my rain barrel one summer (after a fierce 10 minute chastisement for leaving my barrel uncovered).

You could also hire an animal removal dude to take care of the problem and send the bill to your Landlord, signed "Squirrlonymous."

morgan said...

good night! what if it becomes rabid??

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Kim, I'd call the Humane Society except that the problem isn't so much the presence of the's that they obviously have easy access to my attic. If these particular squirrels are removed I have no doubt that other ones will move in.

Fortunately the landlords are looking into it now. They didn't even ask to see the pictures! :)

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Kim, I'd call the Humane Society except that the problem isn't so much the presence of the's that they obviously have easy access to my attic. If these particular squirrels are removed I have no doubt that other ones will move in.

Fortunately the landlords are looking into it now. They didn't even ask to see the pictures! :)

Muffy St. Bernard said...

Morgan, if you see me start to froth, throw a blanket over me and get me to the doctor. Good NIGHT!